Article by Nola Aigner, Health Educator/Public Information Officer, Polk County Health Department
As the month of July brings us beautiful weather, we want to enjoy it by having picnics grilling out, or having celebrations with family and friends. Before you lay that steak on the grill or whip up a bowl of your famous potato salad, make sure there is enough ice to keep your potato salad cold or you have a meat thermometer to indicate your steak is thoroughly cooked. Here are the following guidelines to ensure grilling and picnic tips:
Cook food thoroughly — Meat and poultry cooked on the grill often brown quickly on the outside. But use a meat thermometer to be sure food has reached a safe internal temperature.
- Whole poultry should reach 180 degrees F.
- Chicken breasts should reach 170 degrees F.
- Hamburgers made of any ground meat or poultry should reach 160 degrees F.
- Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145 degrees F.
- All cuts of pork should reach 160 degrees F.
- NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking it later. Cook food completely to destroy harmful bacteria.
Keep hot foods hot — After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, at home or at a picnic, keep it hot until it’s served. Keep it hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could become overcooked.
Keep cold food cold — When having a picnic, avoid opening your cooler lid, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in another cooler or container. When handling raw meat, remove from the cooler only the amount that will fit on the grill. Use an insulated cooler filled one-third with ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 degrees.
Serving the food — Never put your cooked meat on the same platter that held the raw meat. Any bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate the safely cooked meat or other grilled foods. During hot weather food should never sit out for more than ONE HOUR.
Storing leftovers — Once the food has been removed from the grill, it should be refrigerated within two hours. Discard food that has been sitting out more than one hour after it was removed from the grill. Avoid using picnic leftovers since the temperatures at the picnic are questionable.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator — never on the counter top. Do not reuse marinade unless it has been boiled.
For additional food safety tips, visit www.foodsafety.gov. Eat healthy but safe too!